A week ago journalists, lobbyists, politicians and various other stakeholders attended Almedalen Week, one of Sweden’s biggest political events. A total of 17,000 people took part in approximately 1700 different seminars and workshops and of those that attended, 300 were directly connected to sustainable development.
One of the key issues that was discussed throughout the week was related to developments in the transport sector. Electric vehicles, biogas and other bioenergy fuels are used in many Swedish cities and they could all of course, be found in Almedalen.
One thing that emerged strongly was the idea that green procurement within local government will be one of the most important tools used to increase the number of sustainable solutions in the transport sector. One example of the type of innovative policy already in place can be found in Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, where only environmentally-friendly taxis are allowed to enter to collect passengers. The airport has a a number of other forward-thinking green policies, which the CEO of Swedavia explained to me when I interviewed her last month.
The government is beginning to follow suit and the Minister for Energy, Anna-Karin Hatt, announced last week that the Swedish Government has appointed two of Sweden’s foremost energy experts to help realize its vision of a climate-neutral Sweden by 2050. Thomas B. Johansson from the International Environment Institute in Lund and Per Kågeson, Professor of Environmental Systems at KTH in Stockholm, have been tasked with identifying measures that can reduce the transport sector’s emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
To meet this challenge and adapt to a climate-friendly and carbon-neutral Sweden, the government has also adopted another very bold goal. In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Miljöaktuellt, Anna-Karin Hatt claimed that by 2030 the Government wanted Sweden’s vehicle fleet to be completely independent of fossil fuels.
Sweden has already made a good start. Nearly eight years ahead of schedule, we are just 0.2 per cent short of meeting the EU’s 10 per cent target for renewable energy use. Furthermore, according to the Swedish Bioenergy Association (Svebio) bioenergy is now bigger than fossil fuel in Sweden as a proportion of total energy use.
But while these are fantastic developments and something to be very proud of, most of the challenge lies ahead – 90 per cent of Swedish transport still relies on fossil fuels. In October next year a new government report will identify possible actions and measures to continue this progress. The future of our country’s transport could start to look very different as a result.